It’s like the proverbial match made in heaven for Northwest Community Hospital, northwest of Chicago in Arlington Heights, and nearby Little City Foundation, Palatine.
It’s a longtime relationship between the two organizations from which everyone benefits, especially those who need it most. For the past 20 years, Northwest Community Hospital has hired residents with disabilities from Little City to fill jobs in environmental services, laundry and other departments at the hospital.
Individuals from Little City, whose charitable mission is to ensure that intellectually and developmentally challenged adults are given the best opportunities for safe, productive lives, including regular full-time jobs with pay and all of the intangible benefits that come with employment.
The hospital benefits by hiring dedicated, hard-working employees who show up every day with big smiles on their faces, says David Flatt, the hospital’s director of environmental services and housekeeping.
Seven residents from Little City are working in the environmental services’ waste recycling program and one is in the laundry department helping with linen distribution to inpatient units. They range in age from 22 to early 60s.
“They are an important part of our fabric,” Al Jensen, executive director of facilities, Northwest Community Hospital, says about the hires from Little City. “They are part of our community; they are part of our family. They’re all committed to providing excellent work.”
Gloria Washington, a job coach at Little City, guides the workers to make sure they are doing good work.
Flatt says the Little City workers have been invaluable to Northwest Community Hospital’s efforts to ramp up its recycling program for comingled waste. He raves about their efforts and attitudes.
“I wish all of my staff worked as hard as they do. They come to work every day with big smiles on their faces because of their appreciation for having a job. They treat each day like it’s their first day on the job,” Flatt says. “They are a very happy, outgoing bunch.”
Washington agrees that every day for the workers is like the first day on a new job for most people. “I’ve never worked with a group of people that is so excited to go to work,” she says. “They believe in doing their jobs. They work very hard and are good at teamwork.”
Jensen says Northwest Community plans to continue its partnership with Little City indefinitely because the residents they hire are an important asset to the hospital.